Nurturing the Eagle Nest

Working together to beautify the school habitat for our soaring eagles!

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Butterfly Garden Planting!

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We did it!  We planted the Butterfly Garden in the misty rain and it looks beautiful.  We could not have done it without the help of the following wonderful people:

  •  Carl Terwilliger from Meadow Beauty Nursery  designed our Butterfly Garden, gathered and delivered the plants and taught us all how to plant and care for them.  He also talked about the species of butterflies we should expect.
  • The Home Depot for their generous donation of eucalytpus mulch and the FSES family who made it happen!
  • Our Science Lab teacher, Mrs. Beesley, for coordinating the project and writing grants for funding.
  • FSES Administration for their support and encouragement of all things GREEN!
  • And finally….to the students and their families (and teachers!) who looked outside at the misty blowing rain showers and gloomy skies and decided to come anyway and work hard with smiles on their faces.  We are nothing without volunteers and FSES is lucky to have all of you.

‘Volunteers don’t necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.’  – Elizabeth Andrew


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Growing, Learning, Waiting…..and Technology?

8-bed Garden

2nd Grade Science Lab students have planted their seed tapes.  Students hypothesized which of three seeds (carrot, lettuce or radish) they were planting and wrote this in their journal with a seed taped next to their choice.  Now the waiting begins to see if they were correct.  Some of the radish are ready to pick – the students will be so excited!

The Garden Club is working hard trying to control the bugs and maintaining the garden.  It is amazing what a few dozen students can do in 15 minutes before school begins!



This Garden Club member found a toad in the garden. She went home and researched it and came back the next day with her research and told us it was an ‘eastern narrowmouthed toad’. Students make great teachers!

Tower Garden

Our newest learning garden is growing so quickly!  We’ve already learned quite a bit about how this type of growing is different from our 8-bed garden.  The direct delivery of nutrients on the soil-less roots makes the plants grow quickly.  It is too early, too hot – even if shaded by squash leaves, for strawberries, even in the Tower.  A major drawback to the Tower?  Electricity!  We lost power one night and returned to find all the plants droopy and sad.  Everything came back except our chocolate mint plant at the top of the Tower.  We’ve started to find aphids and caterpillars on the squash plants – Garden Club members are removing the hungry insects daily.  We are trying out a method to control the powdery mildew – once a week a Garden Club member sprays the leaves with diluted milk.  We think it is working after only 2 weeks of application.


Pictures – making pesto with Tower grown basil, the aphids have arrived and look how quickly it is growing!

Butterfly Garden

In 2 days Garden Club members and their families will descend to plant native specimens in our Butterfly Garden. Carl from Meadow Beauty Nursery has created a design that will draw many types of butterflies, birds and other animals and insects.  Check back next week to see the before and during and after photos!


Garden Club members have started taping short informational segments for FNN News.  The vodcasts are on Twitter and we’ll post them here too.  Again, students make great teachers!


Our thanks to an ‘Anonymous Donor from UF’ for their funds to help us buy a dump cart and shed for the garden.  Two much-needed items for our garden.  Check out the photos on Twitter.

It is not what is poured into a student, but what is planted.  – – Linda Conway, educator

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Another Way to Grow!

The Tower Garden the school was awarded for winning the Golden Shovel Award has begun its growing season!  The system uses nutrient-rich water and a pump to bathe the growing roots in a soil-less environment.  Seedlings were purchased from a garden center, rinsed of their soil and placed in baskets with rockwool.  We have chives, chocolate mint, basil, parsley, yellow squash, red leaf lettuce and strawberries.  The Tower Garden is located outside the Science Lab.

tower 1

Tower Garden Installation

tower 2

Checking the ph of the nutrient solution

tower 3

Ready to grow!

Other Growing Areas….

The Wonders of Learning garden (the 8 raised bed garden) is coming along.  There are seeds and seedlings in many of the beds as well as the perimeter.  Several families have donated bamboo lengths, thank you, and we’re still accepting more!  The longer the better so our parent volunteer building the growing structure for beans/gourd/peas has more flexibility with the design.

The butterfly garden is set to be replanted very soon!  Keep an eye on the blog and the Science Lab Twitter account for specifics.

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.

~Edwin Powell Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954

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Summer Upgrade

During the summer a work team from the school district Maintenance & Plant Operations gave our concrete block beds a beautiful ‘coat’ of cedar.  Between the inner and outer layer of cedar the work team also poured smooth concrete.  The result is lovely and provides more seating in the garden for visitors.  Here are some before, during and after photos.

glass finished

Glass river completed (thanks again Pinnacle Kids) and cowpea growing in Bed 1 as a summer cover crop and green mulch. Note the concrete block beds.

cedar install

Beds getting their cedar ‘coats’. Note how well the cowpea is growing. Amazing the work team was able to get this transformation done and NOT disturb the cowpea! Wow.

cedar install 2

More progress. Beautiful cowpea helped keep the weeds out of the beds and provided nutrients to the soil when composted into the soil prior to flowering.

beds ready for growing

This photo was taken 9/8/15 – beds are ready for planting to begin. Thank you PBCSD Maintenance work team for your hard work (in the summer too!) – the results are lovely.

Planting begins Tuesday, September 15th with herbs, vegetables and flowers.  We’ve had FSES families donating bamboo (thank you!) but can always use more long pieces.  We plan to have a bamboo structures built to support gourds, beans and loofah.  The structures we used last year was sturdy wire but it just couldn’t hold the weight of the birdhouse gourds.  The bamboo will be sturdier and will look better too.  If you have 10+ foot sections of bamboo please comment and let us know.

Another Growing Area Opens Tuesday!

Last year we won the Golden Shovel for Best New Garden and chose a Tower Garden as our award.  The Tower Garden will begin growing vegetables, herbs and flowers next week.  The Tower Garden will be located outside the Science Lab windows on the patio between the building and the soon-to-be replanted butterfly garden.  Pictures coming soon!

Keep in Touch!

Keep an eye on the blog as we’ve got lots to share in the coming weeks.  Or follow Mrs. Beesley, Science Lab Teacher, on Twitter as she’ll tweet when new blog posts are added.  @FSE_ScienceLab

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. – Liberty Hyde Bailey, Horticulturist and co-founder of the American Society for Horticultural Science

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End of the Year & Garden Grower!

Garden Grower:  Pinnacle Kids

Welcome and a large THANK YOU to Pinnacle Kids for providing the funds to finish the tumbled glass river.  We never thought that goal would be achieved in the first year of the garden.  Also, we love the shade sail fabric that we’ll use over the Tower Garden outside the STEM Lab.  Pinnacle Kids “is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that offers assistance to individual public schools and their classrooms by meeting special needs.  Pinnacle Kids’ mission is to serve as a helping hand for public schools and their teachers, working to help fulfill their overall desire to deliver quality education and foundation to the communities they serve.”  (from their website)  Please check them out, they are doing wonderful things for students in our area.  Mr. Robert R. Restino, Founder of Pinnacle Kids, joined us at our Garden Party and we were delighted to show him the completed river.


Pinnacle Kids Founder Robert R. Restino and Principal Trejo Photo courtesy of A. Fine

Garden Party!

We had a Garden Party late May to thank all or our wonderful Garden Growers, volunteers, administrators, teachers and families.  It was wonderful!  Mrs. Erica Whitfield, member of the Palm Beach County School Board for our area, graciously attended and discussed how important a school garden is to the students and how proud she was of our hard work.  Go Freedom Shores!! Display tables showcased student journals, some of our giant birdhouse gourds, seed packets and tools that we use in the garden.


2nd Grade STEM Journal.  Photo courtesy of A. Fine

FSES Principal Trejo’s leadership and enthusiasm for the project is what made our garden possible.  STEM Lab teacher Mrs. Beesley coordinated sponsors, volunteers and students to get it built and growing.  FSES is lucky to have such devoted administrators and teachers!  There are two special people to whom the garden is dedicated for their vision of incorporating a garden with a serenity aspect to help students experiencing behavioral challenges a space to pause and reflect.  Ms. Cuevas and Ms. Mendez, FSES Guidance Counselors, retired at the end of the school year and they will be missed but we were so happy to see their vision realized.  Thank you!


Ms. Cuevas and Ms. Mendez – we miss you beautiful ladies! Photo courtesy of A. Fine

And to all the Garden Growers we have a special sign in the garden so that we always remember who lent a hand, supplies, funds and expertise when we needed it most.  Our endless thanks!


Garden Sponsors – Pinnacle Kids was added to the list the next morning. Thank you!!  Photo courtesy of A. Fine

Ready for the summer!

The garden was cleared out and planted with a green mulch, pigeon pea, and then a layer of regular mulch.  The pigeon pea will grow and be incorporated into the soil as an amendment before it flowers.  Pigeon pea acts as a cover crop to add good things to our soil and keep the weeds down.  The garden looked a little empty at the end of the year but expect another wonderful growing season next year.


Empty garden with gray clouds.  A bit sad but hopeful too.

On the horizon…..

4th grade was back in action at the end of the school year.  The next major project will be rehabilitating the butterfly garden.  They loved getting out there and doing some hard work, pulling down huge overgrown shrubs and non-native plants, and were incredibly efficient!


4th grade working hard!

See you next year!!

‘It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.’ – – Ann Landers

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Welcome helpers!

Final preparations are underway for a Garden Party to honor sponsors, families and friends and their hard work and celebrate our inaugural year.  Almost all of our community partner sponsors have not seen our garden in person.  We are so excited to share what we have done with them.  But, a lot of work remains to prepare the space.  A volunteer spent time today freshening up our mural to blend more naturally with the glass mulch river.


Thank you Mrs. Kahn!

Garden Club members and other FSES students have been pulling weeds, moving mulch, returning glass, removing litter and always, always, always picking off nuisance bugs.  We’ve seen green lacewings in the garden but have yet to find their telltale eggs.


Our cardinal friend kept flitting around this morning, checking on progress. Lots of loud chirping, maybe he’s impressed?

Students in 1st grade STEM classes have been touring the garden and thinking about what they’d like to do when they become the gardeners in 2nd grade.  Tomato, strawberry, watermelon and carrot were common requests for planting next year.  Kindergarten is also visiting the garden and becoming familiar with the space.  Lots of plans for next year!

Children seldom forget a direct experience.

– Joseph Cornell

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More than food

Students visiting the garden come to learn, observe and do a little socializing in the morning.  It is a neutral place where they are all learning and sharing new information.  Is that a good bug?  Why is the garden bean growing NOW instead of months ago?  Why don’t we pull out the brown leaves on the gourd vine?  When can I harvest a carrot?  The questions come fast and thick in the morning.


Garden time with friends.

Some students need a little time, perhaps while they observe a pill bug crawling on their arm or a green anole clinging to their shirt, to wake up and get ready to head to class.  Observing students who wouldn’t normally interact having a conversation about the number and types of bees buzzing around the sunflowers is a delight to the adults in attendance.  Sharing the moment of pride when a brave 2nd grader removes a leaf-footed bug for the first time to a crowd of amazed 4th graders that had been hesitant to try the same trick.  Timing a photo at the exact right moment when she bursts into a huge smile and holds up her prize.


A proud accomplishment.

Our garden is so much more than a place to grow food.  Come and see.


Green anole spotted often on the gourd vine (and many young green anoles too!)

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Marcus Tullius Cicero